A day in the life of...Fabiana Casella

21st February 2014 at 00:00
Living in Argentina's largest city means that life is never dull. But knowing that she has to keep her students entertained, this English language teacher has been turning to her smartphone

My day starts at around 6.15am. As soon as I get up, I prepare some mate, which is our national hot drink. Then I wake my eldest son and make him some hot cappuccino before he leaves for school.

Living in Buenos Aires means having a different adventure every day. It is such a big city, so it's a melting pot. I live in a neighbourhood only 50 minutes by car from downtown Buenos Aires, but my daily commute has become really hard lately because of traffic jams caused by cars parked at rush hour on double and triple yellow lines.

Every morning I drive my youngest daughter to school, which happens to be the same one at which I work. But, unlike the rest of the world, secondary school teachers in Argentina do not usually work full time in just one place; we generally teach a few hours in one school or more.

I am currently teaching only two of the five classes I used to take when I was unmarried and not a mother. I teach English language to one class of pre-intermediate students in the morning twice a week and to another class of advanced learners in the afternoon two times a week.

To make my classes a bit more fun, I have tried to incorporate some technology through the use of my students' smartphones. We do not have computers or tablets in the school, only computer labs that are used mainly for computing classes, so I decided to ask my students and their parents, as well as school administrators, if they would agree to the use of mobiles and smartphones during my classes. Thankfully, the answer was an enthusiastic: "Yes, absolutely. Why not?"

Although I am not an experienced tech teacher, I have learned how to use straightforward, free tools to spice up my classes. The fact that we have to follow a syllabus and use exam-oriented coursebooks means that it is difficult to keep the lessons varied and interesting, and my main goal is always to keep my students motivated.

After 26 years of teaching, I can say with good authority that teenagers get discouraged very easily, especially the older ones. With this in mind, I felt I needed to challenge them with something different, so what could be better than using their phones in class?

We started with baby steps, using the phones only to look up new words, but we have since progressed and I am now setting assignments. But it is not easy because the internet goes down often and we have frequent power outages.

The students have responded well to the change in their lessons, although I've learned that classroom management is key. I have to keep a close watch because some children will be doing things on their smartphones that they shouldn't in less than a minute.

On my drive home, I see visitors from all over the world enjoying themselves in the city: drinking coffee, walking downtown or simply relaxing. Like I said, living and teaching in Buenos Aires is an adventure.

Your day

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